Editorial

OVN EDITORIAL on Opinion page: 'Wash away stain of Mission/Pueblo water rights'

This is the Ojai Valley News’ public comment for the state of California’s Truth and Healing Council meeting on Dec. 3 and 4:
To Tribal Adviser Michael Park, California Truth and Healing Council members, and Gov. Gavin Newsom:
Gov. Newsom has proclaimed November as Native American Heritage Month.
Our newspaper applauds the state's commitment, written in the proclamation, to "change the paradigm for the State engagement with Tribes, reckoning with our past, making space for healing and promoting equity."
Our "big-city" neighbor, Ventura, has spent $7 million and counting toward a total adjudication of the Ventura River watershed in a shameless grab for its neighbors’ water rights. The lawsuit includes more than 14,000 residents served and noticed as defendants (LA Superior Court No. 19STCP01176). The Third of Nine Claims for Relief (Declaratory Relief — Pueblo and/or Treaty Water Rights — Against All Cross-Defendants) includes a special group notice for the remaining Chumash tribal leaders.
City of Ventura’s third claim for relief:
"City contends that each Cross-Defendant's rights to utilize water from the Watershed are subordinate to the City's pueblo and/or treaty water rights and to the general welfare of the citizens, inhabitants, and customers within the City's jurisdiction."
The city of Ventura council members should be ashamed of themselves for not amending their cross-complaint to eliminate this "Third Claim." Pressure should be brought to bear upon them until the complaint is amended in agreement with the state's "... unwavering dedication to work together with mutual honesty, communication and respect."
The state of California must take the necessary steps to stop allowing the past enslavement and other atrocities committed against Native Americans by the Mission system to be used as a legal basis for separating tribal members, or anyone else, from their legal water rights. 
These claims are not only eminently insulting and demeaning to our nation's first people, they are being used in an attempt to take away quality of life. These "rights" are clearly based on the fruit of the poisonous tree, and need to be removed from this lawsuit and eliminated as a legal argument in a court challenge.
Since the city of Ventura council members have no moral integrity in this matter, the state should step in with more than virtue signaling to end it.
To view the agenda of the California Truth and Healing Council meetings, visit  https://tribalaffairs.ca.gov/cthc/meetings/. The agenda contains information on how to join the event via Zoom and telephone. This meeting is open to the public and will be recorded.
A direct link to the agenda is available here: https://tribalaffairs.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2020/11/CTHC-Agenda_December-2020_FINAL.pdf.